The days of waiting are nearly over: with day one of the first official ITR tests of the year, the countdown for the 2013 DTM season has begun. From Tuesday to Friday, the DTM drivers racing for Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz are testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya to fine-tune their racing cars. In ideal conditions, with temperatures around 18° C, Canada’s Robert Wickens (1:06.735 minutes) set the fastest lap time of the day, with his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. The second-quickest of the day on the circuit’s 2.977-kilometre track layout was the German BMW driver Martin Tomczyk. His gap to Wickens added up to 0.052 seconds. The fastest Audi driver was German Mike Rockenfeller who crossed the line with his Audi RS 5 DTM in 1:07.070 minutes. Martin Tomczyk was the busiest driver: the German completed a total of 170 laps on the Spanish track, representing a total mileage of 506.09 kilometres.
In addition to the four DTM rookies Timo Glock, Marco Wittmann (both BMW) Daniel Juncadella and Pascal Wehrlein (both Mercedes-Benz), technical innovations also attracted particular attention of teams and fans. For instance, the Hankook option tyres that are officially used in the Barcelona tests for the first time. Furthermore, the DTM teams also test the DRS (Drag Reduction System), allowing the drivers to open a rear-wing flap and temporarily increase their top speed, this way.
Quotes following the first day of testing:
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi): “We gave a lot of things a try, on this first day of testing, and completed nearly 100 percent of our scheduled programme. Some of our questions have been answered and there still are another three days of testing to go. Basically, I’m rather happy with our achievements but with the option tyres and the DRS, assessing the times is extremely difficult. After all, you don’t know what is used by whom and when. The DRS worked flawlessly, to date, and its impact is impressive – higher speed on the straights and, consequently, better lap times. Meanwhile, I kept the option tyres for my second day of testing – hoping that the conditions will remain dry. My thoughts about option the tyres and the DRS: Anything that has got what it takes to even improve the DTM racing is a good idea. It’s an effort to make for additional overtaking opportunities. That’s great for us drivers and – in the end – for the spectators, too.”
Bruno Spengler (BMW): “Being back behind the wheel was big fun. You can feel increased pleasant anticipation of the season everywhere. The day of testing was okay – we successfully completed our scheduled programme. Of course, the new option tyres and the DRS made for extra excitement. When it comes to the tyres, we took a close look on the impact the new spec makes over a longer distance. And we learned a lot by doing so. The DRS quite obviously is big fun for a racing driver. You clearly feel that you can change up earlier and that the top speed on the straights is higher. That’s something you have to accustom to and you have to focus on finding the limit lap by lap. Therefore, the tests here at Barcelona – and the ones in three weeks at Hockenheim too – are so important.”
Gary Paffett (Mercedes-Benz): “Getting behind the wheel of my new EURONICS Mercedes C-Coupé for the first time, this morning, was very exciting. The car handles really well and we could complete our testing programme as scheduled and without encountering any problems. The team did a fantastic job in the off-season. It goes without saying that there still is work to do but I think that we once again have got a highly competitive car for the forthcoming season.”
The second and final official ITR tests prior to the season kick-off will be held from 09th to 12th April at Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, with 09th April also being the DTM Media Day. And the first race of the 2013 season will be held on 05th May at the same venue.
DTM technology corner
Option tyres: The so-called option tyre is a new tyre supplied by DTM tyre partner Hankook. This tyre features a softer compound than the well-known DTM control tyre. Due to this change, the option tyre offers the driver the opportunity to set for a certain period in time – estimated some 40 kilometres – the opportunity to set lap times that are about 1 to 1.5 seconds faster. Is the tyre used for a longer period, however, the lap times will drop significantly. The question how long and when the new tyre should be used represents a new challenge for the team strategists. Different strategies will increase the excitement for the fans who will be able to see if a driver is racing on the option tyre as it features a yellow mark on its side. Every driver will be provided with just one set of option tyres per weekend and must use this set of tyres once in the race. The decision, if there will be mandatory pit stops and if yes how many has not yet been made. In the 2013 season, the tyre sets will be drawn on the Friday of the respective race weekend and afterwards are fitted by Hankook for the teams. Then, the tyres are sealed until they are used in the free practice session. This procedure is repeated between the qualifying session and the race.